MOUNT VERNON — On Thursday afternoon, members of the Regional Planning Commission — Darrel Severns, Sue Oswalt and Kerry King — asked the Knox County Board of Commissioners to consider restoring the full amount of money it provides to RPC.
Oswalt, RPC chairwoman, said the budget amount from the commissioners was cut by 9 percent in the second half of 2009 and by 20 percent in 2010. She said a $13,000 deficit is projected for 2010 and the five-year update of the comprehensive plan will be undertaken in 2011. That, she said, will add to the RPC’s expenses.
RPC bylaws state the commissioners’ membership fee is supposed to be $1 per person in the county; the 2010 cuts reduced that to 80 cents per capita.
Commissioner Teresa Bemiller pointed out that the commissioners do provide some “in kind” services rather than money. She mentioned free rent in the county service building, the availability of a county car and gas card for RPC members, the use of county phone lines and the occasional free services of the county auditor and county treasurer.
In discussing possible cost saving measures, RPC vice chairman King stated the comprehensive plan is expensive even if the RPC does not use outside consultants.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger said the commissioners are willing to work with RPC to pursue other ways to make up the budget shortfall. One of his suggestions was to change the formula for how the storm water permit fees are distributed; another was to look at possible grants or donations from entities which benefit from the county having a comprehensive plan in place.
Referencing, among other economic concerns, the uncertainty regarding the state budget and the decline in interest income, Stockberger concluded, “We will have to hold the line as far as our contributions go. It will remain at 80 percent.”